KATHMANDU: The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police has advised against pursuing legal action against six individuals allegedly involved in the 60 kg gold smuggling case.
The CIB submitted a comprehensive report to the Kathmandu Public Prosecutor’s Office, on Wednesday, recommending that six defendants not be prosecuted. Sources within the CIB disclosed that this recommendation was based on their assessment of the case.
The six individuals for whom prosecution is not recommended include customs agent Rukmina Subba, taxi driver Ashok Lama, cargo trader Rajan Shrestha, Naresh alias Surendra Tamang, customs office employee Sridhar Tandon, and Kamal Pariyar. Notably, Rukmina Subba had already been absolved by the Department of Revenue Investigation (DRI).
CIB’s decision to forego prosecution for these individuals stems from a lack of direct involvement in the case. The Public Prosecutor’s Office is poised to initiate the process of registering the case with the Kathmandu District Court after going through the report.
The CIB has apprehended a total of 32 individuals in connection with this high-profile smuggling case. Among these, 18 fugitives have been identified, and an investigation report has been submitted.
SP Sanjay Singh Thapa revealed that Interpol has issued a ‘Purple Notice’ against the fugitives, particularly those who are currently abroad. This notice serves as a request for information about these individuals.
Out of the 18 fugitives, 14 are foreign nationals, and their identities have been withheld.
Among the individuals arrested are eight employees of the Tribhuvan International Airport Customs Office. The group of detainees comprises four customs agents, three cargo agents, one taxi driver, one language translator, two company founders, and 11 individuals directly involved in the gold business.
It has also come to light that five of the foreign nationals within this group fraudulently obtained Nepali citizenship and passports from the District Administration Office Kathmandu, and Kavre.
The CIB’s assessment indicates that seven offenses will be prosecuted in this case.
The police have recommended prosecution under a unified offense, citing Section 57 (1) (d) of the Customs Act 2064, Organized Redressal Act 2070, Section 95 of the Nepal Rastra Bank Act 2058, and Section 43 of the Civil Code 2074.
Regarding potential violations of the Nepal Citizenship Act 2063, Passport Act 2076, and Immigration Act 2049, the CIB has stated its intention to refer these matters to the relevant authorities for further investigation.
This investigation centers around the seizure of 60 kg 716 grams of gold, brought from Hong Kong by Cathay Pacific Airlines, in front of the Tribhuvan International Airport Customs Office on July 18. The gold was concealed within brake shoes purchased by Ready Trade Pvt Ltd, owned by Dilip Bhujel.
The investigation also suggests that this company may have smuggled an additional 302 kg of gold, which has yet to be recovered. Consequently, the CIB has demanded the confiscation of a total of 362.778 kg of gold valued at NPR 35.52 million rupees.
The modus operandi appears to involve multiple companies, including Ready Trade Pvt Ltd, utilizing brake shoes as concealment, each holding the exact amount of gold. As part of their ongoing investigation, authorities are scrutinizing the operations of these companies.
Initially, the case was handled by the DRI, but it was subsequently transferred to the CIB due to its international ramifications.
The CIB’s comprehensive investigation, spanning 35 days since August 7, has involved a multidisciplinary team, including technical, operational, and documentation experts, as well as Interpol cooperation.
Additionally, SSP Dinesh Acharya and DSP Dharmaraj Bhandari’s teams were dispatched to Hong Kong and India, respectively, as part of the investigative efforts.